H24: Peugeot takes historic 1-2 victory

Peugeot finally put three years of pain and frustration behind it to record a glorious and dominant victory in the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours

H24: Peugeot takes historic 1-2 victory

The giant partisan crowd exploded in ecstacy as Marc Gene led home a formation of turbo-diesel 908 HdiFAPs across the line to record a famous win in France's heartland.

For Gene it was a historic moment as he became the first Spaniard to win at La Sarthe. It was equally special for team-mates David Brabham - who recorded his first outright victory at his 16th attempt - and Alex Wurz, who had cause to celebrate as he became a two-time winner - he also won the race in 1996.

For Peugeot it was a chance to erase the memory of 2008, when a pressurised and emotional event culminated in it giving away the race through a series of errors and letting arch-rivals Audi through to win.

No chance of that this time around as Peugeot's race and its strategy ran-out with clockwork precision.

The final hour was something of an anti-climax as far as racing was concerned, following the drama of the 23rd chapter, with Gene leading the field around behind the safety car following Seiji Ara's shunt.

Once running in clear air, Gene calmly brought home the #9 car ahead of team-mate Sebastien Bourdais, whose #8 crew of Franck Montagny and Stephane Sarrazin had relentlessly pursued the winners through the night before being ordered to maintain formation three hours from the end of the race.

The #8 had led the race itself during the early stages until it endured a long stop to repair a loose disc-case.

Tom Kristensen brought the #1 Audi R15 TDI home a distant third, the German manufacturer having suffered a less than efficient debut for its new chassis - and watched it's unbeaten turbo-diesel record broken by Peugeot.

It was impossible for the Dane and his crewmates Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello not to view the result as a disappointment as the Audi challenge crumbled away through niggling problems.

Tomas Enge brought home the Aston Martin Lola home fourth, following an unexpectedly trouble-free run for the Gulf coloured car co-driven by Stefen Mucke and Jan Charouz.

Soleil Ayari was fifth in the sole remaining ORECA while Nicolas Minassian brought the third Peugeot home sixth.

Emmanuel Collard took a clear victory for the Essex team in LMP2, after the only other Porsche RS Spyder crashed in the 23rd hour. Ara's demise means that Xavier Pompidou took second place in class for the Speedy Lola team.

Longtime Corvette servant Johnny O'Connell was given the honour of crossing the line for GM Chevrolet as the C6.R took a swansong victory in GT1 - it effectively finished seven laps ahead of Julien Jousse's privateer Corvette. In reality the gap was less than that as the team gave the car a ceremonial polish before releasing it back on to the track to take its final win.

Risi Competizione took a dominant win in the GT2 class as Jaime Melo took the flag in the Ferrari F430 GT that had led a serious battle through the night until it's rivals fell away one by one through until dawn.

Fabio Babini took second in the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari, with Tracy Krohn third in his own 360.

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